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Railroads slow to install required safety technology

On Aug. 7, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a report indicating that only three railroads are on schedule to meet the deadline to install new safety technology that could prevent many crashes. All railroads operating in Louisiana and nationwide must install the technology, known as positive train control, by Dec. 31, 2015.

According to the FRA, the three railroads that have submitted the required safety plans to install PTC are BNSF Railway, which is the second largest freight railroad in the U.S., and commuter railroads Metrolink in Los Angeles and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in Philadelphia. Amtrak officials report that they expect to have PTC operating in the railroad's Northeast Corridor by the end of the year. However, Union Pacific, which is the country's largest freight railroad, and Norfolk Southern haven't equipped any of their trains with the technology.

In 2008, Congress passed a law requiring all railroads to install PTC technology within seven years. The process is expensive, and many railroads have been pushing to delay the Dec. 31 deadline. However, the May 12 Amtrak crash that killed eight passengers and injured 200 others reinforced the position of PTC advocates, who believe the technology could have prevented the accident. The type of PTC most railroads plan to install uses GPS, computers and wireless radio signals to track train locations and automatically slow or stop trains that are speeding or in danger of colliding with another train.

Louisiana employees who are injured on the job may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits pay for an injured worker's medical expenses and a portion of any salary lost during the recovery period. Some workers find it beneficial to obtain the assistance of an attorney when preparing and filing their claims.

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